Potential Causes of Lichen Sclerosus
Lichen Sclerosus is a rare, but chronic skin condition that is characterized by thinning of skin and formation of white and itchy patches. This condition can affect the skin on any part of your body but is generally more common around your genitals and anal region; thereby resulting in painful sexual intercourse as well as uncomfortable defecation. Lichen Sclerosus can also appear around the skin of the breast and upper body.
Lichen Sclerosus can affect people at any age but is generally more common among women approaching menopause. The intensity of symptoms can improve spontaneously in some individuals, but others may need medical assistance. Fortunately, the symptoms can easily be managed with early detection and timely treatment.
Symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus:
Lichen sclerosis makes your skin scaly, cracked and sore which causes pain, itching, and discomfort. Some common sign and symptoms are
- Small white patches on the skin which are thinner than normal skin
- Itchiness of skin
- Pain or discomforts
- Scarring and wrinkled patches
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Ulcerated lesions
- Skin tears
In some cases of lichen sclerosis, there may be no symptoms at all.
The actual cause of lichen sclerosus is still not known however following risk factors may play a role in the pathogenesis of lichen sclerosus.
- Hormonal imbalance
- Any skin damage or injury in the past can increase the risk to develop symptoms around the same area
- The overactive immune system such as overactive thyroid gland
- Positive family history of Lichen Sclerosus
This disease is not contagious; that’s why it is not transmitted from affected person to a healthy contact even with sexual intercourse.
As discussed previously, it generally affects postmenopausal women in the vulvar region. Male and children can also develop this condition, but in rare cases. In males, uncircumcised males are at much higher risk compared to circumcised males.
If you have developed white patches or itchy skin, make sure to consult a doctor. This is because early treatment can prevent further complication.
For diagnosis your doctor will take a small piece of affected skin and analyze it under the microscope. In severe cases, the diagnosis can be made on the physical examination and symptoms.
Due to lichen sclerosus the skin become scaly and cracked which results in bleeding and soreness. If it is around your genitals, the quality of sexual life can get affected. In severe conditions the lichen sclerosus causes your vaginal wall to tighten which makes sexual intercourse very uncomfortable. Additionally, if blisters develop in the affected region, the surrounding skin can become extremely sensitive.
Lichen Sclerosus sometimes results in the development of precancerous lesions that aggravate the risk of developing certain skin cancer. The chances of developing skin cancer in the setting of Lichen Sclerosus are only 5 percent but early diagnosis and proper, consistent and timely treatment can reduce this risk.
It is a chronic skin condition that may resolve spontaneously. If you are experiencing troubling symptoms, especially in the anal or genital region, speak to a healthcare professional as steroids and some other drugs can greatly improve the quality of symptoms.